Efficacy and tolerance of photodynamic therapy for vulvar Paget's disease: a multicentric retrospective study

Eur J Dermatol. 2018 Jun 1;28(3):351-355. doi: 10.1684/ejd.2018.3289.


Background: Extra-mammary Paget's disease is a rare form of intraepithelial adenocarcinoma with a variable pattern of invasion, sometimes associated with distant malignancy. Vulvar Paget's disease (VPD) represents 1% of all vulvar cancers. Standard treatment is surgical excision, however, the recurrence rate is high and surgery leads to anatomical, functional, and sexual morbidity. Some case series suggest efficacy of photodynamic (PDT) as treatment for this indication.

Objectives: Our aim was to assess the efficacy and tolerance of PDT in women suffering from VPD.

Materials & methods: A retrospective study was conducted on all patients suffering from VPD, treated with PDT at six hospitals in France. Clinical data, histopathological reports at diagnosis, therapeutic history, PDT schedule, tolerance, and clinical response were reported.

Results: Thirteen women were included, with a mean age of 70.1 years. Ten women had an in situ disease, two had <1-mm dermal involvement, and one had adnexal involvement. All PDT courses were carried out using the same light source and photosensitizing agent. Complete response was achieved in two patients (15%) and partial response in five patients (38%). Five patients (38%) had stable disease and one (7%) had progressive disease. Ten of the 13 patients underwent pain evaluation; in six cases (60%), pain was described as moderate to intense.

Conclusion: PDT appears to be a therapeutic option for patients with VPD, with a response rate similar to that of other therapies usually recommended, such as surgery and imiquimod. There is a need to harmonise PDT procedures and pain assessment.

Keywords: extra-mammary Paget's disease; non-surgical treatment; photodynamic therapy; vulvar Paget's disease; vulvar disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Paget Disease, Extramammary / drug therapy*
  • Paget Disease, Extramammary / pathology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Photochemotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • methyl 5-aminolevulinate
  • Aminolevulinic Acid